Favorite Online Tools: Twitter

Ah, Twitter. It’s one of those things that everyone has heard of, but few use (I mean really use). People fall into one of three categories with Twitter:

Use it everyday (or almost).
Have an account, but don’t get it.
Think it’s stupid.
I have access to five Twitter accounts. Two are work related, one is for my freelance business, one is for my mommy blog, and one is just me. So, I guess you can say I’m a heavy Twitter user. However, I don’t check Twitter obsessively. I keep it up during the day. It’s my news feed so I know what’s going on in the world and in my field. I mostly use it professionally and I’ve made lots of contacts through it. It’s a fantastic tool.

If you’ve never used it, you might wonder what the point is. What I love the most about it is that it can be whatever you want it to be. Do you want to follow the news? Follow every news organization that interests you. Some even have their staff tweeting as well. That’s how I end up having regular conversations with WPXI’s Scott Harbaugh, their weather forcaster (@WPXIScott). Sometimes I’ll tweet him to find out what the weather will be over the next few days. And, get this, he tweets back. It’s like having my own personal weatherman.

I’m also a loyal Pittsburgher, so I follow a lot of local people. That’s how I know what’s going on around town. Is there a major traffic snarlup on 279? Did someone’s building get evacuated downtown? What’s going on over the weekend? Tom and Katie were spotted at Soergel’s (by one of my Twitter friends @woycheck, who tweeted a pic of them)! Kids, get in the car, we’re going to the pumpkin farm!

If you’re thinking of using Twitter, but don’t known why, here’s my advice. Go to www.twitter.com and get an account (it’s free!). Don’t share anything you don’t want to, but be you, be genuine. Find a few people who interest you by searching key words. Like sports? Search for your favorite teams. When you find someone you like, see who they retweet (that’s forwarding a tweet). Follow them. You can also see who others are following and follow those that interest you. If you have follower’s regret, just unfollow.

When you’re ready, tweet something. You have 140 characters. I like that because it makes me get to the point. Tweet to someone you like or follow. Maybe they’ll tweet you back! You can tweet about anything, but please be polite!

Don’t post anything you don’t want others to see. I have written out many angry tweets that I deleted before I send. I always think “Is this how I want to present myself?”

To get you started, here are some people to follow:

@danasheehan (that’s me!)
@janepitt (formerly known as PittGirl)
@nprnews
@TheEllenShow
@TVWithoutPity
@mashable
@mentalfloss
@ThinkGeek
@TheOnion
@GuyKawasaki

Now add your local news stations, celebrities you like, magazines you read, and areas of interest. And be sure to send me a tweet, I’ll tweet back, I promise (unless you’re mean or a spammer, but I’m sure you’re super nice)!

See, wasn’t that easy? Tweet ya later!

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